The Super Eagles of Nigeria are confirmed to match England national team, the Three Lions, as their final tune up game ahead of their Russia 2018 World Cup opener against Croatia.
The Nigeria Football Association confirmed on Wednesday evening that, all agreements sealed, the encounter is billed for the Wembley Stadium on June 2, before the team heads off to Russia.
The match will be only the third between both countries at senior level, and will serve as the Super Eagles’ final preparatory game for the FIFA World Cup finals in Russia, with their first match against Croatia in Kaliningrad coming exactly two weeks after.
NFF 1st Vice President and Chairman of the Federation’s Organizing Committee, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, told thenff.com on Tuesday: “The match is now confirmed. We had been doing a lot of work in the background, even going back to last year.
“Now, we are happy to say that it is all sealed. Certainly, it is going to be a big match, between two countries of remarkable historical affinity and similarities.
“We have other matches and programs for the team, and we will soon roll out the entire plan for matches, camping sites and training camps.”
The idea of a friendly game between England and Nigeria in the present dispensation was first mooted in 2015, when NFF President Amaju Pinnick met with then Chairman of The FA, Greg Dyke in London. Afterwards, Pinnick and NFF 2nd Vice President/LMC Chairman Shehu Dikko (who is also Chairman of the NFF Marketing, Sponsorship and TV Rights Committee)) met with incumbent Chairman of The FA, Greg Clarke, also in London.
One of the promises made by Pinnick at the onset of his administration was that he would actualize a match between the senior teams of Nigeria and England. That has now become a reality – another promise fulfilled.
Organizers hinted thenff.com on Wednesday that they expect a full house at the big game, and that a train of top-drawer dignitaries could include members of the Royal Family.
Super Eagles’ Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr told thenff.com: “This is good news for myself and the entire team. England is a very strong team presently and I believe they will give us a very good match. We will be able to test our readiness for the World Cup when we meet the Three Lions at Wembley.”
While the Super Eagles play Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in Group D, the Three Lions are up against Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G in Russia.
England is one of only eight countries to have won any of the previous 20 editions of the FIFA World Cup finals.
Nigeria and England first clashed at senior level on 16th November 1994, also at the old Wembley Stadium. David Platt’s headed goal towards the end of the first half separated both teams.
Both teams met again at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The encounter at the Nagai Stadium in Osaka, Japan on 12th June 2002 ended 0-0, with the Super Eagles being eliminated from the finals at the group stage.
Akinwunmi added: “We decided to be strategic in our choice of opponents for the Super Eagles leading to the World Cup, and in total agreement with the preferences of the Technical Adviser. That is why we opted for England. We played Argentina (in November 2017) without even knowing we were going to be in the same group at the Finals.”
Three –time African champions, Nigeria came from two goals down to defeat two –time world champions and reigning world vice champions, Argentina 4-2 in that match in Krasnodar on 14thNovember 2017.
The Super Eagles already have a confirmed date with Poland (1974 and 1982 World Cup bronze medallists, and who play Senegal, Colombia and Japan in Group H in Russia) in Warsaw on 23rdMarch. Other dates are 27th March and 27th May.
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Fred Edoreh - Publisher
Born July 13, 1965, Fred Edoreh hails from Umeh, Isoko South, Delta State. He attended St. John Primary School, Iselegu, Mater Dei Collage Ashaka, St. Patrick’s Grammar School, Asaba for HSC and graduated in English and Literary Studies at Bendel State University, Ekpoma.
He went into journalism in 1990 with Newbreed Magazine and later crossed over to television production with Ultimate Sports and Soccerworld on the Nigeria Televsion Authority.
He subsequently moved to pioneer Internet publishing in Nigeria with Nigeriasports.com and was later employed at Silverbird Television from where he moved as Editor of Weekend Sports at Naational Mirror Newspapers.
He currently publishes the online sports website www.sportstalkafrica.com besides and also runs a sports marketing outfit, Westcoast Works and Projects, managing and marketing live radio broadcast of the Nigeria Professional Football League.